Wordwalk Puzzle Tutorial

A WordWalk puzzle represents several words embedded in a directed graph. A directed graph is a diagram that consists of nodes and arrows.1 In mathematics, nodes and arrows are also known as vertices and edges. In WordWalk puzzles, nodes are represented as ellipses (consonants) or diamonds (vowels).

WordWalk puzzles are generated from several words, one of more of which are unknown -- called rootwords -- while the other words are called subwords. These subwords are known to the player. A word is considered a subword of another word if each letter of the first word occurs somewhere in the second word -- perhaps multiple times!. In puzzles with multiple words, a word is considered a subwords if each of its letters belong to at one of the rootwords.

To solve the puzzle, one must correctly guess the rootwords by spelling them out letter for letter, node for node from beginning to end for each rootword.

There is generally no need to guess what the subwords are because they usually are given. But to receive the maximum number of points possible, each subword needs to be found in the puzzle. (Keep in mind that each subword may contribute unique edges (arrows) to the puzzle.) A subword is found clicking on the nodes for each letter in the subword -- in order!.2

WordWalk puzzle graphs are formed from words as follows: Each letter in the word is assigned to a unique node in the graph. If a certain letter in the word is followed by another letter, then an arrow is drawn from the node of the first letter to the node of the second letter. If a letter is immediately repeated in a word -- as the letter 'o' is in the word 'book' -- then the arrow is drawn as a loop pointing right back at the same originating node. Arrows are depicted with solid arrowheads and small open cirles for the arrowtails. This makes it easier to distinguish between arrows coming into and those going out from a node.

Given a graph generated in this way from one or more hidden words rootwords, additional subwords of those rootwords are chosen in order to contribute additional arrows to the graph (arrows in addition to those contributed by the rootwords). A subword is a word whose letters also occur somewhere in the rootwords.

For example, the word 'test' is a subword of the rootword 'street'. If there were two rootwords, say, 'best' and 'tie', the 'test' would still be considered a subword of the two rootwords taken together, even though 'test' is not a subword of either of those two words alone.

Even very short rootwords can have many subwords. For example, the word 'would' has at least the following subwords: 'do', 'old', 'low', 'wood', 'odd', 'loud', 'wow', 'doll', and several more. (Not that subwords are generally shorter than a rootword, but not necessarily so. In some languages (German), many long words can be formed from very letters.) However, only a few words are generally chosen (sometimes at random) to be included in the WordWalk graph.

By contributing arrows, the subword graphs become embedded as subgraphs in the rootwords' graph, and the rootwords' graph becomes more complicated. The subgraphs offer multiple ways to walk through the graph and trace out the subwords. This gives rise to many paths that don't belong to any of the words involved.

As said above, each node in a WordWalk puzzle represents one letter of the rootword. But usually only the first letters of the rootwords are given in the graph. For simpler versions of this puzzle designed for kids, more than one letter of the rootword can also be given.

The arrows from node to node show which letters follow which. Letters that repeat in a word represent repeated crossings of the associated node(s).

At the lowest level of difficulty, all the subwords from which the graph was made are given to you. At higher levels, the number of letters in the rootword is generally larger, and thus the number of possible subwords is also greater; although it is not necessary that all of the subwords contained in the graph are shown to the player, in Wordwalk 2.0 (and earlier) all subwords are given. (Moreover, as of this date, only graphs with single rootwords are being used. Multiple rootwords is a feature planned for version 2.5)

Think of the given subwords as clues. The more clues you get, the easier it is to solve the puzzle. However, there is also a downside to having more clues: the number of arrows and hence the number of possible letter assignments does increase as well. At even higher levels of difficulty, WordWalk puzzles may be generated by more than one rootword and their chosen subwords. This feature is currently planned for Wordwalk 2.5.

  1. In mathematics, nodes and arrows are also known as vertices and edges.
  2. The letter of each subword must be clicked on in order, even if that letter was previously found as part of another subword. You must spell out each subword.